Harley’s back, and she’s got a new squad. Picking up right where season 3 of the show left off, Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Legion of Bats! #1 focuses on Harley’s new struggle to reconcile her heroic status with how she once thought of herself as a villain. Like the last tie-in comic series for the show, this series seems to want to revisit the conflicts of the previous season, while giving plenty of extra focus to the characters’ relationships. However, it runs the risk of sharing the same feeling of being ultimately inconsequential for the world of Harley Quinn: The Animated Series and its characters.
One of my problems with the Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Eat! Bang! Kill! Tour series was that, while it was fun to read, it felt a little empty. This was largely because of its relationship with the show. It had just come off the heels of the season 2 finale, which finally settled the “will they, won’t they?” drama that had been running up until that point. However, since Tee Franklin didn’t know what would happen in season 3, (or at least wasn’t allowed to reveal it) she ended up revisiting that same “what will happen between Harley and Ivy?” question that had just been resolved.
This series is, at least initially, going down a similar path with Harley’s internal conflict of how to handle being a “hero”. Season 3 ended by having her finally come to grips with the fact that she wants to be a good guy, and that’s ok even if Ivy wants to keep being a villain. Though, through Harley’s monologue in the beginning of this issue, as well as her cagey interactions with the Bat family and Ivy, it seems that that’s going to be one of the main focuses of this story as well. In a vacuum that’s something that I find interesting and a worthwhile topic to explore, but the show just got done exploring it.
While we get hints of what is yet to come for this series, a lot of the first issue is devoted to recapping the events of the show up until now. I don’t know if there is anyone reading this who hasn’t also been watching the show, but I guess they want to make sure those people aren’t totally lost. For those who have seen the show, the opening can feel a bit like obligatory exposition with a fight thrown in to keep it visually interesting.
Speaking of visuals, Shae Beagle is much more willing to stray from the show’s art style than Max Sarin’s art in the last series. It’s far more rounded and even child-like than before. This lends itself well to exaggerated, cartoonish expressions and fight sequences. I think it actually fits Franklin’s writing style a lot better. Franklin leans heavily into emotional expressiveness for the characters, and that’s helped a lot by an art style that enhances those emotions.
One emotion that’s ever-present is, as always, love. This comic revels in showing us how much Harley and Ivy care for each other. No matter what challenges each of them are facing in their own lives, (which are becoming more and more separated) they make sure to always support one another. They give each other encouragement, help when they are struggling, and always leave room for intimacy. It can border on the saccharine at times, but if that’s what you want in a Harley/Ivy comic, this one’s got it for you.
Unfortunately a bit of that schmaltz comes at the cost of Ivy’s characterization. I mentioned this is my review of the last series, but she behaves a lot differently than her show counterpart. Here, she’s much more openly emotional and expressive. It changes her dynamic with Harley a lot because her cold, reserved demeanor is what made her such a stark contrast to Harley. When they both always wear their feelings on their sleeves, there is a lack of distinction between them.
I’m still looking forward to Ivy’s plotline that this issue established with setting up the “Ladies and Nonbinaries of Doom”, though I’m afraid that it will ultimately not matter. The events of Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Eat! Bang! Kill! Tour were ultimately ignored by the show’s following season, presumably because the audience for any comic is dwarfed by the number of people who watch the TV shows and movies. It’s an understandable situation, but it unfortunately means I have to expect that nothing that happens here can have a lasting impact.
- Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Eat! Bang! Kill! Tour was a series you liked
- You’ve been waiting to see how Harley adjusts to working with the bat family
- You’re a fan of Harley and Ivy’s romantic relationship
Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Legion of Bats! #1 starts the series off by recapping and revisiting the show’s last season. It gives the reader a glimpse of the new status quo, and sets up the new plot lines for the comic. Unfortunately, some of those plot lines are a little too similar to what has just been covered by the TV show. Fans of the show and of its previous tie-in comics will still find plenty to like, especially if they’re supporters of romantic Harley/Ivy moments, so long as they don’t expect anything too radical.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.